How to Design an Online Marketplace

Article by Charlène Guicheron - 01 Jul 2021 - 4 minute read

Want to know how to design a marketplace? Here’s how to create a well-designed and converting marketplace that your users love!

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Curious about how you can design an online marketplace, but don’t know where to start? 

There is a lot of information out there, so we’ve gathered everything you need to know to build an online marketplace yourself. Don’t worry, we’re keeping things easy, straightforward, and actionable. 

By the end of this, you’ll feel prepared to design your very own online marketplace - no design experience required!

Ready to get started? Let’s go.

design an online marketplace

Source: Pexels 

How do you build a marketplace platform?

Online marketplace platforms are attracting a lot of attention and many are making moves to build them. Why?

Marketplaces are a great business model because they’re easily scalable and can be very profitable. Some of the biggest businesses in the world are marketplaces - just look at these Amazon marketplace statistics.

In order to build your marketplace business, you first need to build a website. That’s what we’ll cover next. 

How do you build a marketplace website from scratch?

Just like other websites, it is possible to build a marketplace from scratch. The real question is, what’s the point?

Building a website platform from the ground up is more expensive and takes much longer than using a marketplace builder tool, like Kreezalid. It’s also not flexible to update since it may require custom coding or contracting developers to make changes later on.

Nowadays, drag and drop builders come with great marketplace design features and theme options so it doesn’t look like a template. Customization is easy so you’re able to build your dream marketplace, without coding it from scratch.

How much does it cost to build an online marketplace? 

If you do wish to build out your online marketplace from scratch, you should expect costs to start at $20k. If you opt for a drag and drop marketplace builder, you can get a quality product for about $500 per month.

A good question to consider isn’t how much it costs up front. It's “how much does it cost to scale a marketplace?

As your marketplace expands, your site must be able to keep up with increased traffic, more transactions and other growing pains.

It’s inevitable that your site will evolve over the years, so having a flexible, cost-friendly, and reliable way to do this is vital to grow your marketplace.

How do you design an online marketplace? 

To decide how you should design your marketplace, look to other leaders for inspiration. By using them as examples, you can pull your favorite design features from each to build your optimal marketplace.

Let’s look more closely at the world-leading markets Etsy, Amazon, and eBay.


Fueled by creatives, Etsy’s design is more whimsical and crafty than other online marketplaces. Their artistic design choices align with their handmade products and services.

For example, circular product bubbles and a light green accent color feels softer and more welcoming than squares or vibrant colors. It feels comforting, like home - which is what Etsy’s products cater to.

As you continue scrolling, you may notice borders that look like ripped paper. This is another smart design choice because it plays into the creative, handmade vendors that Etsy is known for.

Simple design choices like this make a big difference! Next, let’s look at Amazon.


As the king of online shopping, Amazon undoubtedly has made some smart design choices that you can mimic in your marketplace.

First, do you notice how Amazon puts timely products on top? 

During Pride Month, Amazon was sure to feature TV and film products related to this holiday. Next to that, Amazon promoted seasonal staples like sandals and outdoor items since it is also summertime and those searches rise in popularity.

With a category like “Most-loved summer styles” above the fold, Amazon assumes what visitors may be looking for right now. This also helps Amazon’s homepage look more relatable and dynamic since it changes continuously. 

The design takeaway from Amazon is that you should continue refreshing your homepage. This can minimize the number of clicks visitors need to perform by putting the most relevant, timely products first, but more on that later.


Following suit with Amazon, eBay is displaying seasonal, opportune themes on its homepage. The difference is that eBay chose a dynamic banner that alternates every few seconds.

eBay made this intelligent design choice so they can use larger images but still display multiple promotions. This is different from Amazon and Etsy that used smaller images and more tiles. 

What’s one design choice that Etsy, Amazon and eBay all share? Clear categories. 

From the moment someone lands on one of these three homepages, there are clear paths to take - and hopefully, directly to what they’re looking for.

In short, design a website that’s simple to navigate and helps visitors see where they can go.

What features does your marketplace need? 

The features you choose will make or break your marketplace. As you design, you must choose features that benefit your vendors, buyers and you.

The best features optimize user experience by making selling, shopping, and managing purchases easier. To start, let’s talk about the website pages you need.

Website Pages Your Marketplace Needs

At the very least, your website should have friendly navigation including a:

  • Homepage - to direct traffic to and promote your offering
  • About page - to explain what makes your marketplace different
  • Contact page - to allow people to easily reach you and develop stronger marketplace trust

Built-In Features Your Marketplace Needs

Within these website pages, you most likely need these three features. There are many other features to consider, but to get started, it’s necessary to have:

  • Listings - to describe the products or services offered on your marketplace. Listing pages would include brief vendor information, a product/service description, price, reviews, and purchasing details. 
  • User accounts - for customers and suppliers to log in to. This portal allows them to set up their own profiles, manage orders, learn more about visitor buying habits, and more.
  • Payment option(s) - that allows website visitors to perform transactions directly on your marketplace.

Note that this is another reason using a drag and drop marketplace builder is a smart decision. You can build these features (and many more!) directly into your site.

For example, Kreezalid’s User Accounts’ feature allows customers and suppliers to set up accounts in just a few clicks creating convenience and marketplace trust

How do you create a high-converting marketplace?

Features make your marketplace convenient, but what makes it convert? Let’s dive into some best practices and design principles that high-converting marketplaces use.

Design Practices to Increase Marketplace Conversion

Leverage the following tactics to create a high-converting marketplace.

  • Research your persona

It’s important to understand your target persona and clearly define your audience. Investing time into learning who exactly your customers and suppliers are will help with building your marketing strategy and making smart design decisions. Startups often fail, but 34% said that the main reason was having the wrong product-market fit. Researching your persona will help avoid this.

  • Keep your branding consistent

A key design principle is to keep your branding consistent, everywhere. Your marketplace should feel cohesive throughout your entire website from the homepage to the purchase confirmation page. The website should also match external design like on your social media and marketing collateral. That means only using select fonts, colors, and types of graphics or imagery. Creating and sticking to a brand guide can help.

  • Color psychology

Colors are a great way to grab attention quickly and reinforce branding. Certain colors make people feel a certain way, as described by color psychology. For example, yellow conveys optimism while red creates urgency. People judge your site within 90 seconds of viewing it, and 62-90% of that decision is based on color alone, so design with colors that reflect your marketplace brand. Just think, how do we want visitors to feel?

  • Include whitespace

The power of whitespace is clear in design, just look at Google.  Leaving room, or whitespace (which can come in the form of color), on your website lets visitors “breathe.” Ample whitespace can even increase comprehension by 20% 

  • Clear call-to-actions

Have you ever been on a website and wondered, where do I go? Design your site to have clear call-to-actions to guide your users at every step. However, only display one or two at a time to avoid confusing them. It also helps to provide a progress bar, for example, during the checkout process so people are clear what stage they are at. 

  • Display testimonials or reviews

While customer testimonials might not be the prettiest thing to look at design-wise, they help increase conversions - a lot. Over 92% of B2B buyers said they were likely to purchase a product or service if they could read a trusted review on it. Design reviews into your listings from the start and build them out as you grow.

Quick ways to boost marketplace conversion

Here are some extra, fast design tips that are known to help increase conversion when you design an online marketplace.

  • Ensure your marketplace website is mobile-friendly
  • Use as few pages as possible; less is more when it comes to design
  • Capture emails so you can follow-up with marketing efforts
  • Display “Share” links that easily let people spread the word
  • Provide quality product descriptions and valuable content
  • Make sure everything on your website is spelled correctly
  • Provide a solid return policy that puts shoppers at ease

Kreezalid provides ready-to-use themes that put all of these principles into practice. An expertly designed theme will help increase conversions and ensure quality design that impresses your marketplace customers.

Over to you!

There you have it! Now you know how to design an online marketplace. 

What it comes down to is designing a marketplace that is both beneficial and beautiful. If your website features provide solutions to customers and your design choices are appealing to the eye, you’re on track to win with your marketplace.

Want to build and design your own marketplace? Try Kreezalid for free! 

Charlène Guicheron
About Charlène Guicheron

Co-Founder and CEO of Kreezalid

After 5 years helping companies to develop their online marketplace, I saw success stories as well as failures. Today I share my experience and my clients feedbacks through useful resources that will allow you to focus on what really matters for the success of your online marketplace. Because believe me, the secret isn't in the code ...